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Microsoft goes multiplatform with Office for iPad

Microsoft goes multiplatform with Office for iPad
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A change of leadership at Microsoft has brought a change of emphasis.

Satya Nadella, the new boss at the world’s largest software company has signaled a different course by unveiling a version of its Office suite for Apple’s iPad.

In his first public appearance since taking the helm less than two months ago, Nadella revealed his plans to make mobile apps a top priority.

He confirmed that Microsoft will release versions of the apps for other mobile devices in the future.

A refocus is seen as essential for the company long term as sales of Windows waver with the falling shipment of PCs – down 9.8 percent last year – while tablet shipments jumped 50.6 percent.

Professor J.P. Eggers, at New York University’s Stern School of Business, thinks this could be the end for the legacy Windows operating system: “In some ways it’s actually getting rid of the old. The piece that was the legacy business – the biggest legacy for the company – and going and saying look, it’s back to what the firm has done well for a long time, which is the Office suite. But it’s kind of saying we’re going to favour one of the children of the company as opposed to the other, as opposed to trying to keep them together as they’ve been doing for the last 20-something years.”

This move is a major blow to Microsoft’s Surface, which was to be a rival to the iPad but has sold poorly.

Analysts said it is a big gamble for Nadella as the new boss launches a renewed drive by the company to conquer the mobile arena through ‘cloud’ computing after years of shackling its best products to PC-centric Windows.

How it played

The Office application became available on Thursday, March 27, free to download from Apple’s app store, but to create new documents or or edit them, users will need a subscription to Microsoft’s existing cloud-based service called Office 365. Otherwise they can just read them.

Word quickly became the most downloaded app for iPads in Apple’s app store. The third and fourth most popular free app downloads were Excel and Powerpoint.

Microsoft’s Office 365 Home Premium, designed for home consumers, costs $100 a year. For businesses it costs $60 or more per year, depending on features.

Apple gets its standard 30 percent cut of new Office 365 Home subscriptions sold through its app store, but no share of existing Office 365 revenue or multiple subscriptions bought by companies.

Microsoft said Office for the iPad will correct layout problems that used to occur when accessing files saved on the cloud storage platform, OneDrive.

The app allows users to drag photos around Word documents and grab elements like pie charts in Excel.